But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark; and God caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the water subsided. 2 Also the fountains of the deep and the floodgates of the sky were closed, and the rain from the sky was restrained; 3 and the water receded steadily from the earth, and at the end of one hundred and fifty days the water decreased. 4 In the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark rested upon the mountains of Ararat. 5 The water decreased steadily until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains became visible.
6 Then it came about at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made; 7 and he sent out a raven, and it flew here and there until the water was dried up from the earth. 8 Then he sent out a dove from him, to see if the water was abated from the face of the land; 9 but the dove found no resting place for the sole of her foot, so she returned to him into the ark, for the water was on the surface of all the earth. Then he put out his hand and took her, and brought her into the ark to himself. 10 So he waited yet another seven days; and again he sent out the dove from the ark. 11 The dove came to him toward evening, and behold, in her beak was a freshly picked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the water was abated from the earth. 12 Then he waited yet another seven days, and sent out the dove; but she did not return to him again.
13 Now it came about in the six hundred and first year, in the first month, on the first of the month, the water was dried up from the earth. Then Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and behold, the surface of the ground was dried up. 14 In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dry. 15 Then God spoke to Noah, saying, 16 “Go out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. 17 Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you, birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, that they may breed abundantly on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” 18 So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him. 19 Every beast, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out by their families from the ark.
So to put it in the words of Peter, in 2 Peter 3:6, "The world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished." So when they came off the...the ark, they came into a completely different world which 2 Peter 3:7 calls the heavens and the earth which now are. That was a different planet than what we now experience. The land that had once teamed with animals and people and vegetation have been replaced by an incredibly desolate wilderness. The air, which formerly was warm and gentle, now moved in stiff and sometimes violent winds. And there was a chill on the mountain slopes of Ararat where the ark was resting and dark clouds rolling across the sky, which had once been perpetually and pleasantly bright. Seemed to threaten more rain and recurrence of flood conditions...
The earth had surely been purged of the wicked humanity that had made its physical beauty only a mockery, and...and that was good. But what was left was bleak and barren and foreboding. Dr. Henry Morris says there were, no doubt, physical changes along the lines of these. "The oceans were much more extensive, since they are now contained all...they now contain all the waters, which once were above the firmament inser...in the subterranean reservoirs of the deep. The land areas were much less extensive than before the flood, with a much greater portion of the surface of the earth uninhabitable for this reason. The thermal vapor blanket was dissipated, so that strong temperature differentials were inaugurated, leading to a gradual buildup of snow and ice on the polar latitudes, rendering much of the extreme northern and southern land surfaces also essentially uninhabitable. Mountain ranges uplifted after the flood emphasized the more rugged topography of the postdiluvian continents, with many of these regions also becoming unfit for human habitation. Winds, storms, rains, snow were possible now, thus rendering the total environment less congenial to man and animals than it had been before. The environment was also more hostile because of harmful radiation from space, no longer filtered out by the vapor canopy. A gradual reduction in human longevity after the flood. Tremendous glaciers, rivers, and lakes existed for a time, with the world only gradually approaching it present state of semi-aridity. And that is what is known as the Ice Age. The Ice Age occurring after the flood."
He says, also, "The crust of the earth was in a state of general instability reflected in recurrent volcanic and seismic activity all over the world...which we know very well in southern California...and continuing...as he says....to some degrees even to the present." Obviously so. So they step out into a totally different world in a totally environment. And life, instead of living for 900 years, begins to be shortened and shortened and shortened and shortened. And Noah, at the time he steps off the ark, is 601 years old, and life from then begins to shorten and shorten and shorten and shorten till you come to the time of Jesus Christ, even, and long before that. And people are dying in their 20s and 30s and 40s." Medicine has extended a little bit of that today. The Bible says that a man's life may generally be three score and ten, 70 years. Very different from the pre-flood world.
It must have been a tremendously exhilarating moment, and yet mixed for the people that stepped off onto the ground after a year and ten or eleven days. What was their first response? This is really where you come to the culmination of this passage. The first thing Noah did in verse 20 was build what? "He built and altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animals, every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar."
Can you imagine stepping off of the ark and seeing the devastation? Death and desolation would have been everywhere. That never, ever occurred to me before. And Noah and his family offer burnt offerings. Probably thankful that they were spared, yes, but even more so, as MacArthur believes:
Noah saw the staggering judgment of God. He saw the extreme anger of God against sinners. And he offered to God a sacrifice of total dedication that, at the same time, acknowledged that himself and his family were sinful, and their sin was worthy of death...
And, of course, this picture of a sacrifice on behalf of sinners becomes the key to understanding the death of Christ, doesn't it? So Noah is a priest for the new humanity. There are only eight people in the human race, and he's their priest. And he offers blood sacrifices as a recognition of the need for atonement, the need for propitiation...And I think it was because of his penitence, because of his recognition that the only reason they all weren't drowned was grace. That they were sinners. They needed atonement. They needed a sacrifice to pay for their sins. I think it was that integrity in his worship, that honesty, that expression of true repentance that brought about the response of God.
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Genesis 8:20-9:17.